Over the years I have seen just about every Corvette model and build style there is to be seen. Who doesn’t like a 1963 Corvette split-window fuelie? Or how about a dual-quad-topped 283 under the hood of a 1957? And, of course, what about one of today’s C7 Grand Sports, or how about a Z06-equipped version? The list is almost endless but what about those of us who wish to tinker?
In the interim, I have noted that while the world is full of showroom-correct Corvettes I never tire of seeing a Corvette where the owner has used his imagination and skill set in an effort to come up with a look that is unique … a personalization of America’s sports car. Corvettes—since the day they rolled out of the factory—have been road raced, drag raced, autocrossed, slalom raced, or any number of club racing endeavors. To this there is the less competitive side, at least from an acceleration point of view, shown in showroom stock and customized in more manners than one can even begin to describe.
The majority are the beneficiaries of a simple personal touch with the addition of new wheels and rubber followed by a few pieces of chrome. The car is subtle in its appearance but notably better looking than stock. Nice effort I say. If there ever was, and still is, a car that lent itself to personalization it’s the Corvette … any year or particular model. It doesn’t matter if it is an early small-block with a single four-barrel, dual fours, or topped off with fuel injection … it’s cool.
With the arrival of the ’80s we saw fuel injection in many variations take over for carburetion as a means to an end. With the demand for greatly enhanced emission standards and improved fuel economy it wasn’t long before early electronic fuel injection gave way to highly sophisticated engine management systems, variable valve timing (the shutting down of cylinders when the demand isn’t there), etc., and the result is something we all can be proud of with clean running engines, greater fuel economy and truly world class performance.
With all of this excitement I am still taken aback a bit by fellow Corvette owners and a hoard of wannabes that will come up to someone else’s ride and begin to point out “problems”… as they see them! Listen, not all Corvettes are pampered and shuttled about within enclosed trailers. Many of them are driven. It’s been my experience when you drive your Corvette “stuff” happens: paint nicks, rock chips in the windshield, road grime and whatnot spread about the undercarriage and the engine compartment. Let’s face it, when you drive them they get dirty. Now, most of us give a respectable effort to keep our pride and joy spotless but for those of us that drive them daily this is a task that oftentimes gets away from us, ruining even our best intentions.
But the biggest “pain in the rectal area” Corvette guys that I run across are those that believe all Corvettes should be “as delivered.” Apparently, any Corvette that has undergone transformations or parts swapping at some point in its life just isn’t a true Corvette any longer. Frankly, I don’t give a damn.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is a place for restored Corvettes … right down to the chalk marks on the frame, numbers-matching parts, (numbers-correct is another story that we will visit someday) and all manners of anal retentiveness. Hey, if it wasn’t for the likes of Mickey Thompson and any number of early to current race teams, the Corvette wouldn’t have the heritage it rests on.
But I let myself get too worked up over those who walk up to me and tell me that the color of my 1968 isn’t correct, or the interior should be plastic and/or cloth and not leather because the trim code says so. I really don’t give a rodent’s rump. My Corvette is for me and my family to have fun in. As for the rest that this offends … I politely say, “too bad.” If you own, wish to own, or have owned a Corvette in the past I’m willing to bet you have fond memories and those memories probably came about because you did it your way. That’s the only way to enjoy life or Corvettes.